How to Do Things with Information Online. A Conceptual Framework for Evaluating Social Networking Platforms as Epistemic Environments

Lavinia Marin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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This paper proposes a conceptual framework for evaluating how social networking platforms fare as epistemic environments for human users. I begin by proposing a situated concept of epistemic agency as fundamental for evaluating epistemic environments. Next, I show that algorithmic personalisation of information makes social networking platforms problematic for users’ epistemic agency because these platforms do not allow users to adapt their behaviour sufficiently. Using the tracing principle inspired by the ethics of self-driving cars, I operationalise it here and identify three requirements that automated epistemic environments need to fulfil: (a) the users need to be afforded a range of skilled actions; (b) users need to be sensitive to the possibility to use their skills; (c) the habits built when adapting to the platform should not undermine the user’s pre-existing skills. I then argue that these requirements are almost impossible to fulfil all at the same time on current SN platforms; yet nevertheless, we need to pay attention to these whenever we evaluate an epistemic environment with automatic features. Finally, as an illustration, I show how Twitter, a popular social networking platform, will fare regarding these requirements.
Original languageEnglish
Article number77
JournalPhilosophy and Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Epistemic agency
  • Epistemic environment
  • Epistemic sensitivity
  • Situated cognition
  • Skilled action
  • Social networking platforms
  • LEaDing Fellows

    Gutierrez, A., Dols Perez, A., Bae, D., Sahoo, H., Wang, W., Lam, K. L., Raimondo, A., Steffelbauer, D. B., Lesne, E. L., Ragno, E., Amador, G. J., Šiaudinyte, L., Sand, M., Robinson Garcia, N., Abil, Z., Purkarthofer, E., Noardo, F., Tasić, J. K., Marin, L., Angeloni, L., loddo, M., Stockill, R. H. J., Franklin, S. W., Hensen, B. J., Dennis, M. J., Afroza Islam, S. T., Kim, T., Manzaneque Garcia, T., Tiringer, U., Marques Penha, F., Esteban Jurado, C., Timmermans, E., McCrum, I. T., Pool, F., Forn-Cuní, G., Will, G., Barrett, H. E., Everett, J. A. C., Kostenzer, J., Luksenburg, J., Hirvasniemi, J., Desai, J., Ruibal, P., Albury, N. J., March, R., Eichengreen, A., Muok, A. R., Cochrane, A., Ravesteijn, B., Riumalló Herl, C. J., Meeusen, C., Biaggi, C., Granger, C., Cecil, C., Fosch Villaronga, E., Sánchez López, E. S., Loehrer, E., da Costa Gonçalves, F., Giardina, F., Wu, H., Gleitz, H. & Khatri, I.


    Project: Research

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